Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Copyright Infringement Wednesday (New Year's Eve Edition)

New Year's Eve, looking forward to sitting in front of the television, wanting something decent to snooze in front of; I perused my DVD collection looking for the very best film my shelves had to offer. The Dark Knight? Sweeney Todd? Truck? No, these were not good enough..... then I saw it, the film I had to see this afternoon:

Terminator Dog
T-D: Terminator Dog (터미네이터 독)

A dog that's a terminator? A sequel, a prequel, a spin-off from the James Cameron classic? Not exactly. A quick search on google revealed nothing except a link to the Brian Yuzna classic "Rottweiler".... A closer examination of the DVD and I saw that the original title was indeed included though not in the most obvious of ways:

Terminator Dog

Bottom right hand corner, just after the heart warming statement that T-D: Terminator Dog had been shown at the Ninth Puchon Fantastic Film Festival (Pifan), is the original title of the film "ROTTWEILER". Even on the Pifan website, the film is listed as "로트와일러 Rottweiler", so the distributors have deliberately altered the name of the movie after its original festival presentation.

But what of the cover picture? That shot of the robotic dog is not exactly what I would call a rottweiler (looks a little bit like a wolf to me) and is more than a little reminiscent of the dvd cover for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Has somebody been to the plagiarist school of cover art? The original image for "Rottweiler" is much less copyright infringing, so why not use that instead? Probably because it's not very good, but that is beside the point.

Well for 3,000 won, you get what you pay for... a crap Brian Yuzna film about a naked convict being chased by a cyborg dog with blue eyes.

I leave you now with the inspiring spanish language trailer for "Rottweiler" so that you too may share in the joy of the Terminator Dog:

Friday, December 26, 2008

How I Spent My Christmas Day....

It's Christmas Day, what better way to spend it than to dress up as a Minotaur and scare children...

A happy, happy Christmas!

Death at Christmas

Sad news: Harold Pinter died on Christmas Eve.

One of the greatest writers in modern theatre, Pinter was a hero of mine and his plays have had a great influence on me. A great loss. Michael Billington's tribute to him can be found here.

Here's Pinter's Nobel Lecture from 2005:

And the video:

Rest in Peace Harold.

Christmas Lunch

Nothing says Christmas more than a big steaming plastic bowl of 설농탕 (Beef Soup)....

Christmas Lunch

Lunch in a bag.

Christmas Lunch

Before the soup.

Christmas Lunch

After the soup.

The Christmas lunch of champions; well, those champions who have to work.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Snow on Christmas Eve eve

The Itaewon Orange Pig says Merry Christmas.


And at Passion 5 Bakery....


Real snow on a fake plastic tree. Beautiful kitsch.



Copyright Infringement Tuesday

Where does the incredibly tense superhero go to unwind? Where can Kal-El find sanctuary in this hurly-burly whirlwind life of ours? Well, search no more son of Krypton, just around the corned from Baeng-baeng sagori in Gangnam is your personal fortress of solitude:

Superman Massage

A place where the mighty may be massaged...

Superman Massage

DC Comics must be proud that their favourite son's logo is emblazoned on the side of this wonderous massage parlour. The only question that remains is whether "Superman Massage" is a legitimate venue for relief from the aches and pains of every day muscle strain or whether it is a seedy hangout for unsavoury business men in search of a happy ending. Unfortunately, if you live in Seoul you probably already know what the answer is...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Photos of 2008

Coming to the end of the year we find ourselves in a time of reflection.... blah blah blah.....

Here are some incredible photos collected by the Boston Globe looking back on the past twelve months:

Friday, December 19, 2008


With time to kill and an urge to see something on the silver screen, I headed off with a few friends to Yongsan to see Baz Luhrmann's latest cinematic offering - Australia.

It was good, surprisingly good. I love his other films (in fact Romeo and Juliet is the only film I've ever seen twice in the cinema in the same week) and was worried that after his seven year absence from the screen he might not be able to pull off an almost three hour long romantic epic. Reviews from Australia and the U.S. had been mixed, but I had faith in Baz, if he could make a film about ballroom dancing exciting then there was every possibility that he could give us Gone with the Wind Aussie style. And he did...

Nicole Kidman is watchable, Hugh Jackman has turned into a 1940's heartthrob and David Wenham is perfect as the treacherous villain of the piece. The real stars though are Jack Thompson as Kipling Flynn the drunken accountant with a secret stash of "Poor Fella Rum" and Brandon Walters as Nullah the half white, half Aboriginal boy who Nicole learns to love. Walters also appears in Luhrmann's rather cheesey adverts for Australia (the country, not the film):

The film is not very subtle, fails to delve deeply into Australian history ( See Germaine Greer's fascinating attack in The Guardian and imdb goofs page for historical inaccuracies) and really overuses the word "crikey", but does entertain for the full 165 minutes, showing us amazing images of the Australian landscape as well as giving us the feeling that we are watching a 1940s Hollywood epic.

The use of "Somewhere over the Rainbow" throughout the film worked for me, but I can understand that some may find it overly sentimental or cliched. From the ukulele strumming and the snatches we hear in the film it seems as if Baz may have been influenced by the late great Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's version.

Overall a fun and entertaining epic, but nowhere near the dizzying heights of Strictly Ballroom, Romeo and Juliet or Moulin Rouge. It does make me want to visit Australia though.....

P.S. For extra reading check out Hitsville's analysis of the film. Jack Thompson is the Cowardly Lion! Here's to the Gentleman!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why I like Buddhists...

Monks at Jogye Temple in Seoul are getting into the Christmas groove according to the JoongAng Daily:

아기예수님 탄생을 축하합니다 - Celebrating the birth of the baby Jesus

Can't wait to see the Christians holding up the banners for Buddha's birthday...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Copyright Infringement Tuesday

With the possible death of Batman on the horizon, I felt it was only fitting to pay tribute in a truly Korean way. For a few years now, as I've walked up to Shinsa station from Gangnam, I've passed this beautiful and quite possibly copyright infringing homage to the caped crusader.

Soju Batman

Paying tribute to the Batman of the nineties...

Soju Batman

소주 가라오케- Soju Karaoke, the caped crusader's favourite night out.

Soju Batman

And finally a classy little logo at the top of the stairs that probably lead to a wonderfully charming Karaoke bar filled with the hippest superheros in Seoul... Then again it could just be another sleazy excuse for alcohol, singing and other related activities.

I prefer to think positively and hope that they keep to Bruce Wayne's strict moral code. Pity they haven't updated their sign for the release of The Dark Knight, not everybody wants to be reminded of the Joel Schumacher Batman years.

If you wish to pay your respects, you can find it just past the Kyobo building crossroads in Gangnam next to the Pho Hoa restaurant.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Don't put your daughter on the stage Mrs Worthington...

Note to self - Always check your props...

An actor slit his throat on stage when the prop knife for his suicide scene turned out to be a real one.

Daniel Hoevels, 30, slumped over with blood pouring from his neck while the audience broke into applause at the "special effect". Police are investigating whether the knife was a mistake or a murder plot. They are questioning the rest of the cast, and backstage hands with access to props; they will also carry out DNA tests.

Macaroni Market

The latest restaurant to join the bustle throng of upscale eateries in Itaewon is Macaroni Market. Just three days after its doors opened I ventured inside for a quick bite to eat.

Macaroni Market

The name "Macaroni Market" conjures up a cheap and cheerful bistro in my mind, a place to pop in for some pasta or a quick bite to eat, but the owners seem to be aiming for something a little more classy. The menu is simple offering soup of the day, a range of bruschettas, salads, a few main courses and a wide variety of pricey sandwiches.

Macaroni MarketMacaroni Market

After perusing the menu I settled upon the soup of the day (pumpkin) and the goat's cheese and dry fig compote bruschetta.

Macaroni Market

I sat in front of the kitchen and watched the waitress deliver the order to the head chef, who seemed quite bemused at me wanting all four bruschetta to be topped with goat's cheese and figs. The waitress came back and explained that the chef thought that the cheese and fig combo might be too sweet and urged me to try some of the others. I settled on two humous and two cheese and fig, in the hope that I might sate my craving for some salty creamy goaty goodness.

Macaroni MarketMacaroni Market

The soup and bruschetta arrived promptly and looked wonderful. A lot of care had been taken over the presentation of the dishes and both looked absolutely delectable. The pumpkin soup was rich and creamy, delicious save for the sweet white foam that topped it. The foam looked pretty, but did nothing to enhance the flavour of the dish, in fact at times its cloying sweetness overpowered the pumpkin, leaving me feeling like I was sipping on dessert.

Macaroni Market

The humous bruschetta was far better - a mountainous blob of oily cold chickpea paste on hot toasted baguette. Very tasty.

Macaroni Market

Moving on to the goat's cheese and fig I was a little apprehensive, I worried about the sweetness and the fact that there were only three lonely little pieces of cheese on the bread. Far too many figs for my liking.... The cheese was wonderful, but drowned in the sweetness of too many figs. No wonder I had been warned off by the chef...

At this point I realised that the toasted foccacia promised on the menu as a side to my soup had not found it's way to my table. I spoke to the waitress (who was very apologetic) and soon got the extra bread, unfortunately they had been a little over zealous with the grill and the toast was charred beyond the point of pleasantness.

As I scraped the remains of the soup from the bowl with my blackened foccacia, the waitress came over again, this time with a complimentary glass of juice. A very pleasant surprise after a small mishap. The service was very good as was the quality of the food, however, sweet pumpkin soup and an over abundance of figs left me slightly dissapointed.

Macaroni Market

On paying my bill they did hand over two free coffee coupons and they seemed to being trying their best. I just hope that they get better over the coming weeks and that they can improve their cheese to fig ratio.

Leonidas in Korea

Over recent years it has become easier and easier to find creature comforts from home here in Seoul, but there have always been a few items that are impossible to get. A lack of Jaffa cakes can send a man crazy, as will the absence of a crumbly wensleydale.

However today is a day of celebration as I've found that a Leonidas chocolate shop has opened in Myeong-dong! The best chocolates in the world have come to Korea! I just hope they stock the white chocolates filled with coffee cream and hazelnuts...

Friday, December 5, 2008

I love the British postal service!

Picture the scene -

Early December. Bitter winds howling through the streets of Seoul. Tucked up in your cosy little apartment you eagerly await the arrival of a replacement debit card. My oh my! What wondrous gifts I'll be able to buy my family online. I'll hop on down to Amazon and purchase half the store for them once my new card arrives! Oh such innocence... Waiting and waiting for the card that never comes...

Guess what? The British bastions of the postal service, Royal Mail, have decided that despite a neatly typed address and extra payment for tracking that your card should not bother with little old South Korea, but in fact make an epic journey to the home of Nelson Mandela. That's right, my debit card is in South Africa.

Merry Christmas everyone, thanks to Royal Mail no one is getting presents this year!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Fusion Bibimbap

Fusion Bibimbap (비빔밥)

One of Korea's most famous dishes is 비빔밥 (Bibimbap), it's name means mixed rice and that's exactly what it is. There are many variations (See Zen Kimchi's love letter for more info), but the constant is always rice plus a selection of seasoned vegetables and meats. Sesame oil and chili paste and almost always welcome guests in the bowl and a fried or raw egg is more than likely to make an appearance.

I decided to have a go at making my own version, putting my own stamp on the dish. No egg, no chili paste and a little bit of a european twist - instead of chili paste I made a tomato, garlic and chili reduction to stir into the dish.

Fusion Bibimbap (비빔밥)

I finely chopped two cloves of garlic and two hot green chilies, fried them off in olive oil and added a good glug of tomato passata and let it reduce until thick and sloppy. I left that to cool and got on with preparing the other ingredients.

Fusion Bibimbap (비빔밥)

I chose ten ingredients for my bibimbap:

Thinly sliced raw cucmber.
Thinly sliced carrot sauteed until a little soft in olive oil.
Minced beef, finely chopped green pepper and two cloves of garlic fried and mixed with a couple of spoonfuls of 황매원 (a kind of sour plum juice, though all sorts of juices and alcohols could be substituted.
Thinly sliced aubergine sauteed until a little soft in olive oil.
Chopped garlic shoots quickly sauteed.
Thinly sliced raw red and yellow peppers.
Thinly sliced pyogo mushrooms fried in olive oil and tossed with dark sesame oil.
Sliced oily salty dried seaweed.
Lightly boiled beansprouts.
A variety of tiny sprouts.

After preparation it was time for assembly:

Fusion Bibimbap (비빔밥) Fusion Bibimbap (비빔밥) Fusion Bibimbap (비빔밥) Fusion Bibimbap (비빔밥)

Then the necessary mixing:

Fusion Bibimbap (비빔밥)

Finally... consumption. Honestly speaking it was very tasty, I think as long as the rice is properly cooked then it's quite difficult to mess up. The tomato chili sauce gave a fresh spicy tomato flavour to the dish without overwhelming the other ingredients and the sour plum juice added an extra piquancy.

Though preparation of the ingredients may take a little time, the whole process is relatively easy and can be approached at whatever speed you want. Plus with a little ingenuity and inspiration you can turn what's left in the fridge into something delicious

Chalk Portrait Redux

Chalk Portrait Redux
종행, after seeing his drawing online, decided there was room for improvement and so once again attempted to capture the hairy magnificence of Maxwell the Minotaur.

Points should also be given for his Paul acrostic that is made up of the words pizza, asia, uk, like. I feel it to be a fairly accurate assessment.

New English Radio Station in Seoul

From today english speakers and learners have their own english language radio station in Seoul and on the internet. tbs eFM started broadcasting today at 10.01 and 3 seconds (they broadcast on 101.3 FM). The only reason I knew it was going on was Brian in Jeollanam-do's post yesterday, otherwise I would have had no idea (Way to go tbs pr reps!).

I listened to the first half hour and wasn't impressed. It seemed all too similar to the cheesy saccharine foreign aimed content that the Korean government and Arirang broadcasting have given us before. However tuning in again to the Soul of Asia program hosted by Sara Kim, I was pleasantly surprised to hear Michael Hurt of Scribblings of the Metropolitician, Feetmanseoul and Bombenglish talking about his experiences in Korea.

tbs eFM could turn out to be a complete flop, but I'm willing to give it a few more tries.